Okay–further proof that Americans inhabit dramatically different realities.
Last week, a video surfaced showing the Rutger’s basketball coach shoving, hitting and otherwise abusing his players. The physical abuse was accompanied by verbal attacks, and it was all caught on tape. Predictably, there was an uproar. The coach was fired and the athletic director resigned under pressure. Commentary in the wake of the episode raised questions about college athletics, the pressure to win, the focus on the bottom line, and the effect of these on the purported character-and-sportsmanship-building purpose of athletic participation. Shades of Bobby Knight.
What was not predictable–at least, not in the reality I inhabit–was the conservative commentariat’s rush to defend the coach’s behavior.
Sean Hannity, Michelle Malkin and others described the coach’s firing as another example of political correctness, presumably because the epithets caught on tape were anti-gay slurs. In their view, the whole incident was evidence of America’s loss of backbone, expressed in the “coddling” of young people. We’ve gone soft. Whatever happened to “spare the rod and spoil the child”? Hannity offered the information that he’d been disciplined with a belt as a child and that he’d grown up all right. (As Jon Stewart pointed out, Hannity’s “all-rightness” is a debatable proposition….)
In what reality is the abhorrent behavior displayed on that video an acceptable expression of discipline? Perhaps a more pertinent question is, in what twisted reality is the coach’s dismissal a political statement?
What we saw on that video was an undisciplined bully, someone whose lack of self-control and contempt for the young people for whom he was responsible marked him as anything but a role model. Civilized people do not reward or defend such behavior.
If condemning boorishness and brutality has become a partisan political statement, things are even worse than I thought.